Does AWAL Help Or Hinder Independent Artists?

In this article Major Labl founder Mark Knight, critically examines the AWAL offer. Asking do AWAL really offer any more than an aggregator for independent artists? How does their business model help independent artists?

The illusion of the free and easy music industry

Every unsigned musician wants the same thing: Someone to listen to their music, love their music and help them make a career from their music. This quest for the life changing moment is perfectly dramatised by shows like the X-Factor who make it sound so perfect and simple. You rock-up to an audition, sing your heart out and you become a star.

However, what these shows don't explain is the business model behind the glamour. Who is paying? How does the artist gets paid? and does this actually represent a good deal for the artist? FYI signing away a large percentage of your future income for all previous and future releases without any guaranteed you'll make final is unlikely to be a good deal.

Having grown up on a diet of these shows and zero to hero stories it's probably unsurprisingly that so many unsigned artists still have no idea how the music industry really works. Consequently many artists get sucked in and spat out by the industry machine.

The management challenge facing unsigned artists

Let's take management for a moment. The romanticised vision is the white knight manager who discovers you, takes a chance on you and makes you a star. Now there is nothing wrong with that, and it can, and does happen occasionally, but let's just add some reality to that dream and talk about money.

Managers don't work for free, why would they? But if you don't pay upfront it can feel like it's free, it's designed to be friction-less with the manager taking 20% of your income. If you are a global star, this model works pretty well for both artist and manager. Not so well if you are an unsigned artist who earns less than they spend on music. Let's not forget 20% of nothing is nothing. This is the reason why it is almost impossible for an unsigned artist to attract a manager, it's also the reason why we created our PAYG Management service.

It's becoming easier to get music on streaming services

While the traditional model makes it hard for an unsigned artist to attract a manger, getting your music distributed on music streaming services is increasingly simple and easy. You don't need a label to get your music on Spotify or Apple Music. There are tons of music aggregators out there to help you, here at Major Labl we recommend EmuBands who always do a great job, Spotify are now also starting to allow artists to upload their music directly.

EmuBands: a simple transparent offer to distribute your music

The model offered by EmuBands and many other good distributors is simple and transparent. Simple one-off fee. Retain your rights. Keep 100% royalties.

So if you have a new EP that you want to release you would pay EmuBands a one off fee of £34.95 and nothing more. In return they would guarantee it would appear on key music services like Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Tidal Deezer, Amazon etc. Retaining rights and keeping 100% royalties is key if you are to make a sustainable income from your music.

The AWAL offer to artists is far less transparent

This is why I have such a fundamental objection to AWAL. If you haven't come across them here is their basic pitch to artists.

AWAL is Kobalt's alternative to the traditional record label for independent artists, offering music distribution and more with no upfront fees. Apply now.